Monday, August 25, 2008

My Generation

The latest of HBO's major production series is Generation Kill, which just completed its run yesterday.

Hollywood has tried to cover the War on Terror several times already, but most efforts have been a mush of paranoid, heavy-handed anti-American or anti-military screeds. Is there really a difference between Rendition, Stop Loss, Lions for Lambs, or Syriana? And if so, what is it? Notoriously, they all flopped in spite of merciless flogging by the studios and bien-pensants. I think Redacted by Brian DePalma was screened by 26 people total. It would be nice if somehow Hollywood could make a movie that's either pro-war or could show a close connection between the sacrifice of our soldiers with the big-picture aims of the War.

Generation Kill (besides being a TV series) is not it, but to me at least it is compelling nonetheless. Based on the memoirs of a reporter embedded with the First Recon Marine Battalion at the start of the Iraq War, Generation Kill has (so far) been a three-part essay for Rolling Stone, a book, and now a TV series. As contentious as the debate about Iraq has been, Generation Kill is as apolitical it's possible to do. If anything, the theme is that the enlisted guys are strong, fast, and disciplined, but command is either reckless or incompetent or both.

Maybe it was intentional and maybe not, but there's an eery parallel between the story of the First Recon Marines in Mar-Apr 2003 and the status of Iraq in the minds of Americans in general five years later. We go in with our Humvees and MTV with the expectation that things would get a little rough here and there, but nothing major. We perservere, and at end we may not know whether things are better or worse for us having been there, but they will never be the same.

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